Traditional Dutch winter games

With its dark days, winter is the perfect time to cosy up together and play games. In days gone by people not only played lots of games at home, but also in bars. Offering games provided another way for bar owners to attract additional customers. In the traditional Dutch games shed at the children’s activity farmyard you can try your hand at five different games from the past: a type of skittles, shuffleboard, ring tossing, labyrinth and ‘tonnenspel’.

Against the winter blues

Here we examine how light can be used to promote health. We have known about the winter blues since the time of the Ancient Greeks, the most severe form being winter depression. The reduced amount of natural light available to us in autumn and winter results in almost 1.5 million Dutch people suffering from a lack of energy, listlessness or depression at this time of year. When your eyes receive less daylight, your brain produces less of the substance BDNF, which means that you can become depressed. Up until 1998 people suffering from these complaints could only go to a clinic for help.

The health benefits of light

Temperatures are falling and, unfortunately, at this time of year there is less and less daylight for us to enjoy. At the Green Cross health centre building you can find out more about the effect of UV light on your skin and how this ensures that you produce vitamin D and build up your immunity. During the 1950s you could go to Green Cross health centres for sunray treatment, a form of preventive healthcare. The bactericidal effect of the light prevented infections and was used to treat ailments including respiratory infections, skin infections and boils.


Cod-liver oil

There is an ‘r’ in the month once again and, until 1970, this meant that all children in the Netherlands were encouraged to take cod-liver oil. Why? All will be revealed in this presentation. The message was that oil from the liver of the cod and haddock was good for children’s growth, their skin and eyes, their immune system and their bones and teeth. That is because the oil contains vitamins A and D, amongst others. A daily dose of cod-liver oil had been recommended since around 1850.

The school is full

The former village school from Lhee is an example of school buildings from around 1800. It is said that in wintertime this little school was completely full and the children had to take it in turns to stand so that other children could write. The master would nail planks to the school benches to create additional seats or desk space. As a result, he was unable to turn around when he walked between the benches. It was also much too dark. 


Knitting for soldiers

On 31 July 1914 all Dutch soldiers were ordered to travel immediately to their garrisons. There were also soldiers stationed in Zeist. During the first week it already became clear that the soldiers’ equipment was inadequate, as they had only one pair of socks and too little underwear. On 5 August the Women’s Committee therefore issued an appeal to the women and girls of Zeist to knit socks. 


Garlands and Chinese lantarns

During the winter festivals held in around 1900 skating rinks would naturally be festively lit and decorated. Oil lamps, torches or flambeaus, fire barrels and, in particular, Chinese lanterns turned night into day.  Wealthy skating clubs used “electric light”, magnesium light or Wells paraffin gas lamps to create a festive atmosphere. Bunting and garlands were also hung up as decorations. 


Of course it wouldn’t be a festive occasion without music, so there were also brass bands or organs on the ice and sometimes even a skating violinist. 

The inconvenience of winter

The months of January 1963, February 1979, March and November 2005, and January 2013 brought particularly severe winter weather. If you were out in your car when the weather hit, it soon became clear that there was no way to continue. Some people had to dig their cars out of snow drifts almost a metre thick. People were left stranded with their vehicles and were stuck for eight hours in the dark on the Veluwe or in the worst congestion ever seen in the Netherlands, with traffic queues stretching over 1,000 kilometres in total.

Winter in a peat cabin

How cold would it have been inside a peat cabin during the harsh winter of 1890? Try to imagine what it was like. A number of children and adults living in poverty froze to death in their cots and beds inside these basic homes. Among them were rumoured to be two children from Havelte, ‘due to a lack of blankets’. Poor families could not afford to buy these items. People would collect fuel, food, clothes and blankets for the poor in all manner of places. 


Moluccans and the Dutch winter

Moluccans who came to the Netherlands were likened to birds in a cage by their families in the Moluccas. Because of the cold climate they encountered in the Netherlands, they spent much more time indoors than their family members back home and had to get used to the cold weather. In 1951, on their journey to the Netherlands, the men were issued with a warm winter military jacket in Port Said. Women and children were given a dark blue tracksuit, including trousers to keep out the cold. However, trousers were uncharted territory for them, as back home they were only used to wearing a sarong.